A comparative study of technological learning and organizational capability development in complex products systems: Distinctive paths of three latecomers in military aircraft industry


This paper identifies different patterns of latecomers’ technological learning in developing complex prod-ucts systems (CoPS). The experiences of South Korea, China, and Brazil in military aircraft developmentare compared to explain the learning process in attaining indigenous technological capability. The mil-itary aircraft development programs involving international technology transfer agreements have beendocumented to investigate the technological learning patterns. We find different technology acquisitionmodes determined by latecomers’ focus of knowledge-base: technological for “make” and productionfor “buy”. We also find that these modes may influence the process of learning-by-doing. In addition,we find how the role of foreign partners influences technology acquisition mode. Whereas an activerole results in co-production or co-development arrangement, a passive role leads to the vitalization ofreverse engineering. We also shed light on the role of government policy initiatives that facilitate techno-logical learning. Lastly, this paper extensively documented the successful technological learning in SouthKorea’s T-50 and Brazil’s AMX joint venture projects.

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